In-form Newcastle United star dropped for World Cup opener as Manchester City man preferred

Newcastle United defender will start on the bench for Switzerland in their World Cup Group G opener against Cameroon.

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It’s the 30-year-old’s third World Cup representing his country as Switzerland look to progress from a tough group also including Bruno Guimaraes’ Brazil and Aleksandar Mitrovic’s Serbia.

“I’m very excited to go,” Schar said before flying out to Qatar. “It was difficult to think about before because I was focused on the Premier League but now it’s here the excitement will grow.

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“Now it’s a big highlight for myself to go to the World Cup which I will enjoy. I’m feeling great about it and really proud and glad to be able to go.”

Should Schar be introduced from the bench, it will be his 74th cap for his country, making him the most capped international in Newcastle’s current squad. The defender is one of five Newcastle representatives at the World Cup as he joins team-mates Kieran Trippier, Callum Wilson and Nick Pope for England as well as Guimaraes from Brazil in Qatar.

Australia’s Garang Kuol also has a clear Magpies connection with the teenager set to join the club in January. He came off the bench to become the World Cup’s ninth youngest player of all time in Tuesday night’s 4-1 defeat against France.

Schar, like many of his United team-mates, has been in exceptional form this season, forming the best defence in the Premier League with just 11 goals conceded and seven clean sheets. The Swiss international is also yet to lose a game of competitive football this season.

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But he has not been selected to start the match at the Al Janoub Stadium with Manchester City’s Manuel Akanji and Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Nico Elvedi the preferred options at centre-back by Swiss head coach Murat Yakin.

Switzerland XI: Sommer; Widmer, Elvedi, Akanji, Rodriguez; Freuler, Xhaka, Sow, Vargas, Shaqiri; Embolo

Cameroon XI: Onana; Fai, Castelletto, N’Koulou, Tolo; Anguissia, Hongla, Oum Gwet; Mbeumo, Chopou-Moting, Toko Ekambi